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Old 22-12-2020, 09:03 AM
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Outcast (Carlton)
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The Great Conjunction - Public Outreach, Cairns 21 Dec 20

Success!! Well, mostly...

A friend of mine (Ian) who runs the local Astronomy / Prospecting shop here in Cairns (NightSkySecrets) organised a local outreach evening via his shop's Facebook Page.

Invited to attend & if possible, bring one of my scopes I decided I'd give my Intes 7" Mak Cat a run & to keep it simple, I'd just take the newly acquired Baader Zoom EP.

We set up on the North side of Cairns with open skies to the West albeit with a bit of hill intruding on the horizon; the weather gods weren't smiling, with banks of cloud rolling through as the sun began to set.

Still quite light & a few people spotted the conjunction through binoculars & with a very helpful X marks the spot bit of cloud (I kid you not) I managed to locate the two planets in the scope.

Amazing, still quite light but, the two planets side by side within an approximate 0.4* FOV at 112x. I zoomed in to about 160x with a corresponding FOV of 0.35* & was rewarded with sharp detail on both planets & mesmerising view of the two most interesting planets (IMHO) in our Solar System.

Saturn sitting up beautifully on ring edge & there Jupiter on the right in my view, bands boldy visible & exhibiting clear colour, a rusty brown hue to some of the bands, a first for me, I have never seen colour at the eyepiece before. Jupiter's nearer moons were also clearly visible... The sight of these two giants never fails to excite me & invoke joyous feelings.

Managed to show Ian & a couple of other astronomy buffs who were present before & cycling about 10 or so people through to view them before the clouds closed off the window, the planets would not be seen again that evening.

We had a crowd of about a 100 people, amazing stuff but, sadly, we weren't really equipped to get everyone through the short window of viewing that we had. I think Ian managed to show some others in the crowd a view through the 102mm refractor he had setup & I'm not too sure how many others who had their scopes out got a view.. Swung the scope on to Mars & was rewarded with some nice detail but, the seeing as the night progressed became somewhat marginal. The high humidity up here at this time of year is not conducive to great viewing conditions. From there the crowds began to disperse, bit of a fizzer for some unfortunately but, I'm sure those who were lucky enough to get a view will remember it for some time to come.

Before packing up, I swung to M42, beautiful clouds of nebulosity with no filter required; the clarity & contrast from this Intes are just stunning. Extremely happy with the Baader Zoom, it clearly is a piece of quality glass & will no doubt prove very handy with the lightweight travel kit I've been putting together.

Glad to say, we did get a viewing in & we did manage to show some lucky folk the amazing view, albeit briefly... definitely not going to see anything quite like this again in my lifetime...

The sad part of this exercise though was that I had my 23yr old son with me & in all the excitement & sharing the view with members of the public I completely neglected to get him to look.. I feel so bad...

He's working the next couple of nights but, hopefully either on Thursday or Friday the clouds will be kind & I'll set up at home & give both him & my wife a good look at a truly remarkable sight...

Last edited by Outcast; 22-12-2020 at 01:56 PM.
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Old 22-12-2020, 01:03 PM
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Tinderboxsky (Steve)
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Fabulous result and engaging report Carlton. There is something special about sharing these night sky wonders with others. I thoroughly enjoy conducting these outreach activities.
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Old 22-12-2020, 04:36 PM
Tropo-Bob (Bob)
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Thanks Carlton,

A wonderful effort by all concerned and held not far from my place.

Sadly, I collapsed earlier in the day as a result of either the heat ( I was in a park, no aircon) or an increase in my medications. I spent the night in hospital.

I am now back home, so hopefully I will see tonight. I did manage to see how remarkably close they were on Saturday night.

Bob
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